Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ML Update | No. 20 | 2016

ML Update

A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine

Vol.19 | No. 20 | 10 - 16 MAY 2016

159th Anniversary of the 1857 Uprising:

Reclaiming India from Corporate-Communal Clutches

Corruption is back as the big talking point in Indian politics. But interestingly enough, the charges this time around are not being levelled by the opposition against the powers that be. On the contrary, it is the government of the day which is seeking to capitalise on a scrapped defence deal against the principal opposition party.

The controversial VVIP chopper contract was awarded to the UK-based AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian parent company Finmeccanica, in 2010 and the first lot of three of the dozen helicopters ordered arrived in 2012. But charges of bribery soon came up in Italian courts and in February 2013 Italian police arrested Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi on charges of paying bribe worth Rs 362 crore to Indian middlemen to secure the Rs 3,500 odd crore (560 million euro) contract. The UPA government, already reeling under charges of several major scams, cancelled the contract and ordered a CBI probe into the scam.

Now, on the basis of reported disclosures emanating from Italy, the BJP is seeking to make the chopper scam the biggest issue for parliamentary debate when it has little to show by way of progress of investigations by Indian agencies. The BJP would like us to believe as though we were still in 2013 with the UPA in power and the BJP in opposition! The discussion on the AgustaWestland scam has in fact raised disturbing questions not just for the Congress, but also for the BJP and about the Congress-BJP continuum and convergence on issues of corruption and cover-up. The former chief of the Air Force Mr. SP Tyagi, one of the key accused, has also been closely associated with the BJP think-tank Vivekananda Foundation. The decision to lower the flying altitude of the helicopter is now being attributed to Brajesh Mishra during the Vajpayee era.

Instead of ensuring an expeditious and transparent resolution of the scam through a time-bound probe monitored by the Supreme Court, the BJP is flogging the AgustaWestland horse to divert the people's attention from the glaring failures of the government on the economic front and the ongoing assault on democracy in the country. When millions of farmers are reeling under severe drought and people are dying for a drop of water, when the central government has been judicially indicted for misusing the Constitution to ride roughshod on the spirit of federalism and democracy, when students across the country are fighting against the ongoing saffron witch-hunt and Sanghi hijacking of institutions, the BJP talks only about AgustaWestland or Modi's degrees, which according to the AAP is the biggest issue facing the country at the moment!

Ironically, while Parliament debates the chopper scam or Modi's degrees, the mother of all scams is being perpetrated in the banking sector of India. We all saw how Vijay Mallya was allowed to fly away to London after robbing more than a dozen Indian banks of a staggering Rs. 9000 crore. A bigger scam is the amount being routinely written off by the banks themselves. Dr. Kamalesh Chandra Chakrabarty, a former Deputy Governor of RBI and former chairman of Bank of Baroda and Pun jab National Bank has termed it the "biggest scandal of the century". According to him as much as Rs 3.5 lakh crore have been written off in the past 15 years through so-called 'technical write-offs', Rs 1.14 lakh crore in just last three years between 2013 and 2015. The write-offs include the revealing case of one Siddhi Vinayak Logistics Limited which made logistical arrangements for Narendra Modi's 3D campaign in the 2014 LS elections.

Despite explicit instruction of the Supreme Court, the RBI is yet to make public the list of wilful corporate defaulters, but we know the names of the big borrowers of India's corporate world. The Hindu has recently published details of outstanding bank loans held by top corporate houses. The top twelve borrowers comprise Mukesh Ambani (Rs 1,87,070 crore),  Anil Ambani (Rs 1,24,956 crore), Ruia Brothers of Essar Group (Rs 1,01,461 crore), Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Group (Rs 1,03,340 crore), Gautam Adani (Rs 96,031 crore), Cyrus Mistry of Tata Steel (RS 80,701 crore), Manoj Gaur of Jaypee Group (Rs 75,163 crore), Sajjan Jindal (Rs 58,171 crore), LM Rao of Lanco Group (Rs 47,102 crore), GM Rao of GMR Group (Rs 47,976 crore), VN Dhoot of Videocon Group (Rs 45,400 crore) and GVK Reddy of GVK Group (Rs 33,933 crore). Just add up the amounts, and we can see how India's top corporates are making merry atop a debt mountain of more than Rs 10 lakh crore!

Add to this the arrears and exemptions – the CAG says over 96% of the Rs 7 lakh crore outstanding direct tax dues are difficult to recover while central excise revenue exemptions in 2014-15 reached a whopping Rs. 1.85 lakh crore – and the picture of India's crony capitalism, i.e., public-funded corporate festival, becomes truly alarming. It has been pointed out in media reports that the Adani group's debt equals the total debt of India's farmers. And what makes this equivalence truly morbid is that while more than 3 lakh farmers have been crushed by this debt burden, Adani's debt has grown joyfully alongside the political fortunes of his friend Mr Narendra Damodardas Modi whose flight to power was completed in a private Adani jet. And the latter is now about to complete his first two years in office.

While confronting the vicious communal politics of the Sangh brigade we must never lose sight of this crony corporate essence of the Modi dispensation. On the 159th anniversary of the great 1857 uprising, we must invoke the spirit of ownership of the country that the young ideologue of the uprising, Azimullah Khan, had invoked in his beautiful song of harmony and freedom: 'Hum hain iske malik, Hindustan hamara' (we are the owners of this land, this India is ours) to save and reclaim India from the clutches of the corporate-communal destroyers.

Indefinite Hunger Strike in JNU, Country-wide Solidarity 

The indefinite hunger strike started by students of JNU demanding withdrawal of the unjust and vindictive rustications and fines has entered its third week. As the health of the striking students continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate, the JNU administration far from being concerned about the health and academics of the students, has displayed brazen insensitivity but continuously threatening the striking the students.

The JNU Administration has served show cause notices to students who screened the documentary on Muzaffarnagar communal violence 'Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hai' several months back. In protest, students responded by screening the movie once again at the JNU Freedom Square and daring the administration to issue notices to the entire campus.

On the 7th day of the hunger strike, the JNU administration issued a notice accusing the hunger strike of being 'unlawful' and unconstitutional. A day later, the JNU administration once again warned students against using the public address equipment. It may be noted that the JNU administration realised the disturbance caused by the microphones only after the ABVP students, who for days had been trying their best to obstruct solidarity programmes organised by JNUSU by playing loud music on speakers, had decided to call off their farcical strike. Even as JNU alumni announced their intention to join on a relay hunger strike for a day, the JNU registrar warned the students against inviting 'outsiders' to the campus. However, in a befitting response to such intimidating tactics of the administration, hundreds of JNU alumni and non JNUites who have stood in solidarity with struggling students of JNU assembled at Ganga Dhaba on 7th May, formed a massive human chain and marched till Freedom square where the indefinite hunger strike was going on.

Addressing the students, Com. Anant (AISA leader and ex JNUSU VP), who had returned after being admitted to AIIMS for chest pain on the 11th day of the hunger strike, said that this administration cannot break their resolve. Com. Rama, current JNUSU GS, also on the 11th day of his hunger strike said that this government thrived on creating binaries like nationals- anti-nationals, insiders-outsiders, but anyone who is with the oppressing masses of this country is an insider in JNU. The real outsiders are those, who ignoring the demands of JNU students are instead taking orders from Nagpur.

Though, the deteriorating health conditions may have forced a few students to discontinue the struggle, they nonetheless continue to remain in struggle and strengthen it.

Over the days, the striking students have received support from several quarters. JNU teachers' association has been consistent in its support for the students and have also joined the relay strike, with teachers taking turns to sit on relay hunger strike with the students. JNU alumni and several other cultural, political and social activists have joined the students at the Freedom Square to express their solidarity and also perform cultural programmes. On 8th May, when mother's day was being celebrated, several mothers and grandmothers decided to join the striking students on a relay hunger strike, under the banner – 'Mothers with JNU'. Delhi University teachers' Association too has expressed solidarity with striking students and their representatives met the students at freedom square in JNU.

The support and solidarity for JNU students has poured in from all parts of the country. Protests opposing the punishment meted out to JNU students have been staged in Tenali (Andhra Pradesh), Gohana (Sonepat, Haryana), Jadavpur University, Allahabad University, and several other universities. In several universities, student and youth have sat on solidarity hunger strikes. In Jharkhand, AISA activists burnt the copies of HLEC at Albert Ekka Chowk. RYA and AISA activists also sat on solidarity hunger strikes in Dhanbad and Giridih. In Giridih, they were joined in their one day solidarity hunger strike by ex MLA and CPI (ML) leader, Com. Vinod Singh.

In Bihar, AISA activists joined solidarity hunger strikes in Begusarai and Patna. AISA and RYA activists together with AISF, SFI, AIDSO, and other groups also organised a rail roko (blockade of railways) in Patna, Bhojpur, Darbhanga, Nawada, Samastipur, Gopalganj, and other areas in solidarity with JNU students. CPI (ML) General Secretary, Com. Dipankar also met the striking hunger striking students in JNU and expressed his solidarity. Addressing the students, he said that the struggle of JNU had students had created a stir in the entire country. The country is witnessing a new youth upsurge. If there was an Arab Spring, then a new youth spring had also emerged from the Freedom Square here and this spring was determined to reach its destination. Far from conspiring to break the country, the students of JNU through their struggles had worked to unite the people of this country. He said he felt recharged after meeting the determined students.

Villagers of Comrade Chintu Kumari's village Kaulodhri in Bhojpur, Bihar held a dharna in support of the hunger striking JNU students at the Collector's office and sent a memorandum to the President through the Collector.    

At present, Com. Rama Naga, Com. Shweta Raj, Com. Chintu, Com. Anant, Com. Pankhuri, Com. Fayaz, Com. Sarboni, Com. Anand, Com. Birendra, Com. Suresh are entering the third week of their indefinite hunger strike, even as more comrades join to strengthen the struggle.

CPI(ML) Liberation Kerala Committee Statement on Jishamol  Murder

As 10 days have passed since the gruesome murder after rape on last April 28 of a dalit student Jishamol who lived with her mother in a one room shanty house built on 2 cents wasteland in Vattolippara of Perumbavoor under the jurisdiction of Kuruppampady Police Station , reports coming in clearly indicate that concerted efforts were made on the part of the police and a section of residents in the neighbourhood to hide the real nature of the crime .The police were trying to mislead the public by portraying the murder as though it was caused under totally mysterious circumstances or by accident.

Going through many recent reports on crimes in the state, one can easily find out that whereas incidents involving sexual offences against women are alarmingly on the rise on the one side, practice of discrimination against poor and particularly social oppression against dalits is getting institutionalized to an alarming extent, on the other.

There were as many as thirty wounds inflicted on the body of Jisha, according to the report of post mortem, which again was done not under the supervision of a police surgeon but by a medico undergoing PG course in Allepy Medical College . Further, there were also indications that after the rape followed by murder even the dead body had been violated in worst manner. In spite of all these, the police were reportedly not just in a hurry to dispense with the body by giving it back to the relatives of Jisha but they also gave an NOC to the Municipal authority for taking the body for cremation. Why did the police act with such haste if it were not for destroying crucial evidences like forensic evidence and all?

In the case of Jisha, there seem to be factors common with what we find in earlier cases of rape and murder as well. Much like in Saumya rape and murder (in Kerala) and that in Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) case, the ugly face of patriarchal attitude to all women, reducing them to inferior creatures never to be allowed to have any will or choice of one's own, has been unabashedly on display in Jisha's murder as well. The unspeakably violence and horrendous nature of the rape and murder in question is sought to be kept as selectively hidden from, and partly open to the public view. In combination with the hegemonic structure of caste, it is employed with a purpose, often to show one's 'real place' and to 'teach lessons' to a non-compliant woman or dalit . Perhaps this explains the whole thing as to why most spokespersons of right wing –caste-gender structures rather approvingly keep silence or raise totally inopportune and ridiculous questions of dress, morals and modesty even in the context of gruesome rapes and killings.

Another set of actors who deliberately tried to mislead people to the assumption that this murder is mysterious and entirely clueless are sections in the mass media who routinely take instructions from the police and publish stories accordingly, on a day to day basis. One such report in a prominent Malayalam daily that appeared on the very next day Jisha was murdered had the caption meaning 'Young Woman's Body Found Dead Outside Home and under Mysterious Circumstances "

However, later it was known that Jisha's body was seen murdered not outside, but inside the house. Further, It took few more days to be known that police had actually received complaints on at least two earlier instances from Rajeswari, mother of Jisha that certain persons were persistently harassing her daughter and threatening them both. Now, it is anybody's guess how such complaints by a poor dalit woman staying in a shanty house on a piece of wasteland would have been treated by the police .

While crimes against women and dalits go toward the path of near institutionalization thanks to a callous administration on the one side, people's democratic expressions of dissent and protests are steadily gathering momentum on the other. Any democratically elected government should have the minimum courtesy to try to understand the real message and purport of these protests. CPI(ML) Liberation Kerala State Committee has said in a statement that rather than trying to suppress the truth about most heinous rape and murder of a dalit woman, and suppressing democratic expression of people's dissent, the UDF government should immediately take action against the erring police officers and replace them with designated Special Investigation Team comprising officers with exemplary track record.

Further, the government should take most urgent steps to rehabilitate Jisha's surviving mother who, with the loss of her only daughter, is totally broken and bereft of all material and emotional support.

CPI(ML) Calls for Jharkhand Bandh on 14th to Oppose the Pro-Corporate CNT Amendments

The CPIML has been agitating against 'domicile policy' and amendments to the CNT Act by the Raghuvar Das government of Jharkhand. This policy which is nothing but pro-corporate erosion of laws enacted to protect adivasis' rights over land, flies in the face of the very foundation of Jharkhand as a State, which was set up to protect the rights of the adivasis of Jharkhand. To oppose this policy, the Party has called for a Jharkhand bandh on 14 May during which the Party will come out on the streets in Ranchi city as well as different areas of the district. In preparation for this, nukkad sabhas and wall-writings are being done in various places.

Along with the campaign against these pro-corporate amendments to pro-tribal laws in the name of 'domicile policy', a campaign will also be undertaken from 9 May to 10 August among the people, particularly students and youth, against imperialism and spreading of communal frenzy.

26th Martyrdom Day Of Shaheed Daras Ram Sahu Observed

The CPI (ML) observed the 26th anniversary of the martyrdom of Daras Ram Sahu with a memorial meeting at Lal Khadan, Bilaspur on 6 May 2016. The meeting began with garlanding of Com. Daras Ram's statue and one minute's silence as a tribute to the martyr.

On this day in 1990 Com. Daras Ram was killed by criminals under the landlord-spinning mill owner-local politician nexus. Com. Daras Ram was the village sarpanch and President of the Spinning Mill Mazdoor Union and was fighting against the land grab of government land by the landlord. He was shot dead at about 11 PM on that night.

Daras Ram Sahu's wife, children, and family members were present at the meeting, which was addressed by Brijendra Tiwari, Bishat Kurre, Lallan Ram, and Dhanesh Verma. The speakers said that the need of the hour in the present dark times is a strong unity between workers, peasants, students, and youth to struggle against the anti-people policies of the Modi government as well as the Raman government. The meeting expressed solidarity with the struggle and hunger strike by the JNU students and condemned the unjust action against the students by the Central government and the JNU administration.

A resolution was passed at the meeting to fulfill the dreams and aims of Com. Daras Ram Sahu.

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